Author: John Hammer

About John Hammer

Here are my most recent posts

Council Must Not Think Greensboro Has Problems

If you missed the Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting of the Greensboro City Council, you didn’t miss much.   Judging from the meeting – only the third business meeting for the City Council elected last year – Greensboro doesn’t have many problems or issues worth discussing. Mayor Nancy Vaughan was absent so Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson presided, which meant the meeting started on time. The only items that were discussed at any length were the Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise (MWBE) percentages on contracts and making appointments to boards and commissions, which used to be perfunctory but with this...

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Governor’s Slush Fund Latest Raleigh Brouhaha

State politics with a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature has had some bizarre twists and turns. A recent move by Gov. Roy Cooper has the legislature in even more of an uproar than usual. The state approved the permits to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will deliver 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day to Eastern North Carolina, but only after the companies involved agreed to pay $57.8 million into a fund controlled by Cooper. The funds, which will be totally controlled by Cooper, can be used for mitigation, which Atlantic Coast Pipeline is already...

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N&R Doesn’t Think Its Business Is News

I picked up my News & Record on Wednesday expecting to read about the layoffs at the News & Record that occurred Tuesday, Feb. 20, but there was no mention of it. I do know that columnist Susan Ladd and editorial writer Doug Clark were laid off from the news side of the paper, and as far as I know those were the only two; but reportedly there were four other people laid off on the business side. Lest you think otherwise, there is no celebration in the newspaper world when people get laid off, even if it is at the competition. The newspaper industry keeps shrinking. The publisher of The New York Times says that he believes the print version of that paper will be gone in 10 years. It’s a sad state of affairs. In my opinion the most important function of a free press is to inform people about what the government is doing, particularly those things that the government doesn’t want people to know. How can anyone cast an informed vote if they don’t know what their elected officials have been doing in office? I’m extremely biased, but I don’t know of a better way of finding out what is really going on in government than reading a good newspaper. I think in the current political climate we need to hear each others views. One...

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City’s RFP Process Failure Rate 66.7 Percent

Here’s an interesting update on the Café Europa saga. Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson said that the request for proposal (RFP) process was being used for Café Europa because the same process had been used for the Gillespie Golf Course snack bar, with the notable exception that Gillespie Park was not turned over to a private nonprofit to manage. Since the Gillespie Park snack bar was run by an African American and Europa was run by a white male, the city couldn’t be seen as having one process for renewing food service leases for blacks and a different one for whites. What Wilson didn’t mention was that the RFP process for the Gillespie Park snack bar was a dismal failure and that the Gillespie Park snack bar had been closed for over a year. It is now in the midst of its third RFP process since the original lease expired. Wilson also mentioned that an RFP process was used for the kitchen facilities at LeBauer Park. At LeBauer Park, one of the two take-out-only restaurants is closed –   Noma Food & Co. – which along with Ghassan’s, was chosen to operate at Le Bauer Park closed. Evidently in Greensboro people don’t come to a park to eat Asian food. Everything I’ve heard about the food at Noma has been complimentary. It didn’t appear to be the quality that was...

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Under the Hammer: Feb. 22, 2018

After a shooting like the one in Florida, there is always talk of banning the particular type of gun used in the shooting – which serves little purpose. There is a way to ban firearms in the US. It’s a method that has been used 27 times since the country was founded, so it’s neither common nor uncommon. Those really opposed to people owning guns should start a movement to pass a constitutional amendment, because the Second Amendment states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Until something is done about the Second Amendment, Americans, who are a self-governing people, have the right to bear arms, just like they have the right to free speech, free assembly and the free press. All of those rights can be taken away by a constitutional amendment. To me, the most amazing constitutional amendment in our history is the 18th Amendment, which passed in 1919, outlawing alcohol. I just can’t imagine people voting for that. Then, in 1933, the country came back to its senses and passed the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment. The 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, passed in 1920. So in two years the country passed two constitutional amendments. I don’t think a repeal of the Second Amendment would pass, but for those who believe guns should...

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Rhino Shorts: Feb. 22, 2018

The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** Thinking about the recent City Council retreat, I realized that I have been involved in a lot of business meetings where priorities had to be set and decisions had to be made. Not once in all of those meetings was I asked to put a dot beside what I thought was important. It makes me think of the joke about new car salesmen who, on slow days, made side bets on what they could get the customer to do. Like $20 to get him to get in the trunk and another $10 if you can get him to agree to let you close it. That’s my take on the dots. The city staff has bets on what they can get councilmembers to do. The person at the school board meeting years ago who got school board members to put dots on their own foreheads probably won the jackpot. Instead of dots, I think at the next retreat the city councilmembers should throw darts at a board with the priorities on them. Whatever priority gets hit with the most darts is the priority for the year. *****...

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Under the Hammer: Feb. 15, 2018

The mainstream media are obsessed with the resignation of Rob Porter because of accusations of domestic abuse by two former wives.   Considering how fast the federal government does anything, the timeline that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders gave to the press doesn’t seem out of line. The FBI had completed its investigation but the White House personnel office hadn’t finished with its process.  However, according to the mainstream media, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly is going to be forced to resign because someone whose ex-wives reported he abused them was allowed to work at the White House until it was determined whether the allegations were true or not. They may have been abused, but you can’t believe everything that an ex-spouse says about their former marital partner.  Sometimes events get exaggerated and an ex-spouse is not usually considered unbiased. ***** But what the mainstream media are ignoring is a completely bizarre email that former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent to herself a few minutes before Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20 about a meeting she reportedly had with President Barack Obama, FBI Director James Comey, Vice President Joe Biden and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. At this meeting on Jan. 5, Obama, according to Rice’s email to herself, repeatedly told Comey that he wanted the investigation of Trump to be “by the book.”  Rice...

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Council Retreat Shocking in its Lack of Direction

Councilmembers officially got one to two minutes to express their views on priorities at the two-day Greensboro City Council retreat held Thursday, Feb. 8 and Friday, Feb. 9 at the ACC Hall of Champions at the Coliseum’s Special Events Center. The department heads who gave presentations, like Police Chief Wayne Scott and Water Resources Director Steve Drew, were given 10 minutes each. Speakers from the floor at the first City Council meeting of each month are given five minutes each. So the department heads, some of whom have budgets of over $100 million, got just twice as long as...

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John Blust Not Running But A Lot Are

So far the biggest news to come from the opening of filing for the 2018 elections at noon on Feb. 12 is who isn’t going to run. Republican State Rep. John Blust, who has been in the legislature for 20 years, has decided that he’s traveled down to Raleigh enough and is not going to run for reelection. Blust has been a thorn in the side of both Democrats and his fellow Republicans in his years down in Raleigh. He has often tried with limited success to change the way the legislature operates – with the major decisions made...

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Rhino Shorts: Feb. 15, 2018

The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** Anyone who thought they were going to the Downtown Greensboro Inc. event on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the Greensboro History Museum to find out how the city was going to spend the $25 million in bond money on streetscapes downtown must have been disappointed. One thing that was emphasized repeatedly is that this is not about sidewalks and trees. Chris Benyon of MIG from Berkley, California, who has been hired by the city to supervise the spending of the $25 million, said it was about creating a place where all of Greensboro can come and play. Benyon described Greensboro as “cool place” that had a lot going for it and that this $25 million in bond money can be used to transform downtown Greensboro. Benyon is clearly a man full of energy and ideas; he showed lots of slides of parks and places all over the world that had been transformed, but the slide that he showed that received the most response was one of DGI President Zack Matheny doing yoga at First National Bank Field. ***** The News & Record is obsessed with Rockingham County,...

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Cone Denim Cafe Europa Who’s Next?

It wasn’t that long ago that downtown Greensboro was deserted after 5 p.m. The only people downtown were folks working late in their offices. People didn’t come downtown to eat, drink and be merry. One reason for this, which people seem to have forgotten, was that the City Council didn’t want bars or restaurants that sold alcohol in the downtown. The City Council designated what amounted to a strip of grass in the parking lot on South Elm near McGee Street and a planter on the corner of South Elm and Washington as official city parks because there were restrictions about how close an establishment with a license to sell alcohol could be to a city park. These two “parks” made bars and restaurants that sold alcohol off limits for most of the downtown. It has long been forgotten but the N Club at 117 S. Elm St. had to get a special exemption from this law to open, and it was a close vote. The N Club was the first big club to really start bringing people downtown, and today the downtown is at times more crowded at night than during the day. Even before Joey Medaloni opened the N Club, John Rudy took a vacant restaurant space in the Cultural Center building on North Davie Street – which up until that point had turned over about once...

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Rhino Shorts: Feb. 8, 2018

The Rhino Times Schmoozefest returns Thursday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Four Flocks and Larder at 433 Spring Garden St. Free snacks and beer and wine while supplies last for those who sign in and wear a name tag. ***** At least we know the districts for the state House and Senate, and the decision was made a week before filing opens on Feb. 12. The courts are making it extremely tough on candidates in North Carolina. It’s particularly hard on challengers. How do you raise any money if you don’t know which district you’re going to be in? The districts in Guilford County will be the ones drawn by the special master hired by three federal court judges to take over the job the North Carolina Constitution gives to the General Assembly to draw election districts. In Wake and Mecklenburg counties, the US Supreme Court ruled that the special master’s districts shouldn’t be used and the state should use the districts drawn by the legislature. The court case will continue. This is simply a stay for this election. So in 2020, the districts could once again be different. ***** Over a hundred people attended the second Safer City Summit held by the Greensboro Police Department at the Special Events Center at the Greensboro Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 5, to discuss ways to reduce crime in...

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City Council Can’t Resist Taking Action Despite Agreed Upon Town Hall Meeting Format

It didn’t take long for the new City Council meeting format to break down. Tuesday, Feb. 6, the City Council held its second town hall-type meeting, and the plan to only hear from the public on the first meeting of every month and conduct business at the second meeting devolved into just another meeting where the rudderless City Council starts going around in circles. At the first town hall-type meeting in January, Mayor Nancy Vaughan stopped City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson from making a motion to put a resolution on the next agenda because that wasn’t the format of the...

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Cafe Europa Supporters Come Out in Force to City Council Forum and Get a Nothing Burger

Café Europa has a loyal and passionate following, but the Greensboro City Council doesn’t care. About 40 supporters of Café Europa on North Davie Street attended the Greensboro City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 6, and waved copies of the iconic logo for the restaurant to show their support. Nine speakers and the owner, Jakub Pucilowski, spoke during speakers from the floor. Most talked about how much Café Europa meant to them, saying that it was much more than a restaurant but a community, where weddings were celebrated, memorial services held and the employees were friends. Most expressed confusion...

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Under the Hammer: Feb. 8, 2018

I’m not a big fan of CNN or any of the news networks, including Fox News for that matter. But after the House Intelligence Committee released the memo on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants, I watched CNN because I was curious about how they would spin it. What I found in the coverage right after the memo was released was that CNN didn’t talk much about the memo and what it said. What they wanted to talk about was Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Donald Trump. The memo isn’t about Mueller’s investigation. It is about the FBI acting in a partisan fashion to affect the outcome of a presidential election. That is extremely damning. Imagine if the military used its power to try and affect the outcome of an election. That would be called an attempted coup. Maybe this effort by the FBI doesn’t rise to that level. It certainly wasn’t successful. But the very fact that the FBI used an uncorroborated dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to spy on the Trump campaign is frightening. If the Steele dossier was going to be used, the FBI had a duty to tell the FISA court where the information came from, and also that the FBI had not been able to corroborate most of it. The mainstream media keep claiming that...

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Under the Hammer: Feb. 1, 2018

A speech that lasts an hour and 20 minutes has a lot of different messages, but it seemed like President Donald J. Trump was reaching out to the Democrats in Congress with an olive branch tied to a sword. Everyone in Washington knows what a good economy does for the party in power, and particularly for the president. It gives them a huge boost. Presidents rarely lose a reelection bid if the economy is doing well. The economy is doing well, which gives Trump a lot of clout. It seemed to me he was telling the Democrats that they could work with him or he would get it done without them. People are going to start seeing more money in their paychecks this month. That doesn’t mean much to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is one of the richest members of the House, but it is going to mean something to a lot of hardworking Americans trying to make ends meet. It’s going to be tough for the Democrats to go out to the American people in the fall and explain that they really don’t need the money that the Republicans sent back to them without a single vote from a Democrat. Then there was the government shutdown over immigration. The Republicans always get blamed for government shutdowns, but somehow or another Trump turned the tables on Senate...

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City as Landlord Finds Many Ways to Turns Its Back on Downtown Mainstay Cafe Europa

The much beloved Café Europa, which has been a mainstay in the Cultural Arts Center on Davie Street for 18 years and the preferred watering hole of many downtown habitués, may exist no longer come May 1. Restaurants go out of business all the time, but the problem Café Europa has is not a lack of business but that its landlord, the City of Greensboro, refused to negotiate a new lease. The reason the city refused to even enter into negotiations for a new lease has little to do with the current owner, Jakub Pucilowski, and a lot to...

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Scarfone’s Request for Injunction Against February One Parking Deck Gets Day in Court

After over six months of negotiations, on Monday, Jan. 29, Rocky Scarfone and the City of Greensboro faced off in court over an easement to the back door of Cone Denim Entertainment Center at 117 S. Elm St. that the Greensboro City Council voted to condemn on Dec. 19. The city’s plans for the property include a public parking deck and a Westin Hotel built over a portion of that deck. It is a complicated deal that required the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a special bill to allow it to go forward. On Monday, Amiel Rossabi, representing...

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Rhino Shorts: Feb. 1, 2018

The NFL rejected an advertisement for the Super Bowl program that says, “Please Stand,” and was sponsored by American Veterans, as being too politically controversial to allow in the program. The Rhino Times is no stranger to controversy or politics, so we decided that our readers would enjoy seeing this highly controversial ad, and the AMVETS kindly sent us a copy. So if you turn to page 4 you can see this politically controversial ad. Unless you find the American flag or standing as politically controversial then its hard to find anything wrong with the ad. It makes you wonder if the AMVETS had simply chosen to run a full page ad of the American flag if the NFL would have also found that too controversial to run. Or what if some group had wanted to run a full page ad of the British, French or Russian flags? Would that have been too controversial? Or is it simply the American flag they find controversial? Certainly they couldn’t find anything controversial about “Please Stand.” It’s extremely polite. **** I had an unexpected honor on Tuesday night at the District 2 Town Hall meeting at Union Square – I was introduced to Joseph McNeil, who was one of the four NC A&T State University students who sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter on Feb. 1, 1960 and changed history. I...

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Lawsuit Could Put the Brakes on Construction of February One Parking Deck Downtown

The price of the downtown parking deck at February One Place and Market Street set at $30 million went up Friday, Jan. 19 when Cone Denim Entertainment Club owner Rocky Scarfone filed a lawsuit against the city, which has started proceedings to condemn the easement to the backdoor of the club, an action that Scarfone says will put him out of business. The lawsuit asks for an injunction to stop the city from building the parking deck until the lawsuit is settled, since Scarfone will suffer irreparable harm once the parking deck is built. The lawsuit, filed by Amiel...

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Goldman Sachs Executive’s $1.2 Million Wine Theft Has High Point Connection

Guilford County may become known as the hot wine capital of the country, if by hot you mean stolen. Once again Guilford County wine dealer Wine Liquidators in High Point, run by Ryan Chaland, has, according to sources with knowledge of the case, been found to have purchased bottles of stolen wine worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. With this wine it doesn’t take long to get to the hundreds of thousands mark because one bottle may be worth $25,000. In the latest case, David Solomon, co-president of Goldman Sachs, discovered that about $1.2 million worth of wine was...

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Rhino Shorts: Jan. 25, 2018

Campaign finance reports aren’t due until the end of the week, but former District 5 City Councilmember Tony Wilkins has filed his and it has some startling information. Wilkins had $19,823 left in his campaign account at the end of the election. Wilkins raised a total of $59,418 and spent $39,595. If Wilkins had won you could say that he was being frugal – but he lost. Current District 5 City Councilmember Tammi Thurm won with 2,513 votes to 2,054 for Wilkins. Thurm by comparison raised $36,995 and spent $35,056 and had $1,938 left in her account. So while Wilkins raised $22,423 more than Thurm, he only spent $4,539 more than Thurm did. The combined amount of money raised, over $96,000, may be the most ever raised by two candidates in a district City Council race. ***** Wow. According to an article in a reputable publication, a mathematician at Duke proved that the Republicans drew the congressional districts to favor Republicans. This is simply astounding information. No doubt only a high level mathematician could figure out something everyone in the state already knew. The Republicans have not denied drawing districts to favor Republicans. State Rep. David Lewis, when asked why they drew districts that would give Republicans a 10-to-3 majority over Democrats, said he didn’t think it was possible to come up with a map to elect 11 Republicans....

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Under the Hammer: Jan. 25, 2018

Forget about Dreamers who have been in this country for at least 10 years and aren’t going anywhere. Forget about the bogus government shutdown that dominated the news cycle for days. These are both smoke screens. The real story, the story that has been put on hold for over a week, is the news coming out of the investigation of the FBI. Now there is evidence of a “secret society” in the FBI and the Justice Department. The purpose of the secret society referred to in an email from former top FBI agent Peter Strzok to his mistress FBI attorney Lisa Page was apparently to force President Donald J. Trump out of office. This is a far more important story for the future of our country as a free society than any immigration or funding story. The reason these other stories are so prominent in the news is because the Democrats and the leftwing mainstream media are doing everything in their considerable power to cover-up the FBI story. We know for a fact that people in the FBI were working against Trump. First they were working against the Trump campaign. The FBI was involved in the creation of the Trump dossier. One problem they had was that the dossier went too far. It was shopped around to the media before the election and no reliable news source would touch...

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Concerns Raised About Sex Offenders At IRC

Director of the Interactive Resource Center (IRC) and City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy last fall objected to developer Marty Kotis placing a charter school in the old Dorothy Bardolph Building on the corner of Washington and Church streets downtown. Kennedy said that a number of people who used the IRC were registered sex offenders and it would be a hardship for them since the IRC is right down Washington Street from the Bardolph Building. During that discussion, it was revealed that seven people on the Sex Offender Registry listed the IRC as their address. The number of those using the...

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Under the Hammer: Jan. 18, 2018

It makes sense when you have different political parties in control of the White House and Congress for there to be big battles about spending and threats of a government shutdown. But it makes no sense with Republicans in control of the House, Senate and White House to be talking once again about a government shutdown. The problem according to those in Washington is that Democratic votes are needed in the Senate to get to the 60 votes needed to bring the matter to a vote. What the Republicans could do is eliminate the rules that require 60 votes to do just about anything in the Senate and go to a simple majority. The Democrats did it when they really wanted a bill passed and the Republicans did it for judicial appointments. Bodies are ruled by the majority. It would appear that the main reasons the Republicans won’t make the change is because they fear they will soon be in the minority and because of tradition. The first objection may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the Republicans can’t get anything done in the Senate then the voters may decide they might as well elect Democrats. Some of the Republican base is still bent out of shape over the failure of the Republicans to fully repeal Obamacare after running and winning for years by promising such a repeal. Others in...

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Rhino Shorts: Jan. 18, 2018

I’m doubling down on my complaints about traffic lights in Greensboro. While most people wisely stayed home on Wednesday, some of us had to work, which meant driving around in the snow. There was almost no traffic, but the traffic lights in Greensboro were on the same settings as if it had been a normal day. It’s dangerous to stop on snow and ice. And sometimes it’s impossible to get started going up a hill on ice. The lights should have been on flash with yellow for the thoroughfares and red for the side streets. Traffic lights also bunch...

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Close But No Toyota

It was sad news that the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite was not chosen for the Toyota-Mazda plant. It would have provided the manufacturing jobs that Greensboro needs. Nobody would talk about it on the record, but off the record, up until this week, the feeling was that the Toyota-Mazda had chosen Greensboro and was waiting to make the announcement. Tuesday night, Jan. 9, when asked, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said she didn’t want to talk about it. Wednesday, after the announcement was official, Vaughan explained, “I didn’t want to concede if there was any chance we might get it.” Vaughan said it was the supply chain that did the Greensboro-Randolph megasite in. Alabama already has three automobile manufacturing plants, so the supply chain for auto manufacturing is in place. And since North Carolina doesn’t have a car manufacturing plant, we don’t have the supply chain for one. So, in the end, North Carolina didn’t get an auto plant because we don’t have an auto plant. Who knew that automobile plants were like automobile dealerships and they all like to be in one place. Vaughan said that making it to the finals on this selection process puts the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite, not just on the national map, but on the world map for anyone who is looking for an advanced manufacturing location. She added that after the attempt at the Boeing plant, “we...

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Federal Judges Continue Push To Take Over Legislatures Redistricting Duties

It appears the federal courts are attempting to overturn the North Carolina Constitution and take the right of redistricting away from the state legislature so that the federal court itself can do the redistricting. On Tuesday, Jan. 9, it was announced that a panel made up of three federal judges had ruled the redrawn North Carolina congressional districts illegal because of political gerrymandering. In the past, the courts have upheld the right of the majority party to redistrict to benefit the candidates from that party. A case is currently before the US Supreme Court where a similar ruling by...

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Rhino Shorts: Jan. 11, 2018

Cartoonist Bill Lunsford is joining the Rhino herd (which as I just learned is also called a crash) this week and will be providing weekly cartoons that will run on the page facing Under the Hammer. His cartoons will be about both national and local issues. We hope to have a healthy mix of each. The late Geof Brooks was the Rhino cartoonist from 1992 until he unexpectedly died of a heart attack last February, but in one of those oddities of life, Geof introduced us to Bill. Geof was taking a class in cartooning from Bill at Randolph...

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Under the Hammer: Jan. 11, 2018

The liberal media talks about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients as if enforcing the laws of this country is wrong. President Barack Obama was in office for eight years, and for months he had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a majority in the House. The Democrats could have passed any immigration reform bill they wanted and the Republicans would have been unable to stop it. Obama and the Democrats didn’t pass any meaningful immigration legislation. What did they do about the Dreamers when they had complete control of the government? Nothing. This whole DACA mess was caused by Obama because he put in a temporary measure that gave these young people a special status for a limited amount of time. It is always more difficult to take a privilege away from people than it is to have never given it. DACA went into effect in 2012; before that the young people now protected by DACA were no different from any other illegal immigrants. But if the Republicans don’t renew this special status given to them by Obama on a temporary basis, then, according to the liberal media, they are evil and uncaring. If that is true, wasn’t Obama evil and uncaring for not making sure they received their special status on a permanent basis? Why didn’t Obama give the DACA recipients a path to citizenship...

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Rhino Shorts: Jan. 4, 2018

OK, I drive a car with a big V8. I used every aerosol can I could find, even when forced to buy them at discount stores when regular stores quit carrying them. Charcoal grills, outdoor fire pits, indoor fireplaces, if it’s not 80 degrees on the weekend I’m burning something. I do this because I have been promised that it will cause global warming. I like warm weather and if it were a few degrees warmer every day I’d be a little happier. But despite all of my hard work to bring about global warming, the temperatures over the New Year’s holiday never got above freezing. This is the South, for goodness sake. It’s supposed to be hot in the summer and cool to cold in the winter, but not frigid. We’re supposed to have a couple of cold days a year where it drops into the low 20s or teens, but warms up to 50 or so during the day. If this global warming doesn’t kick in soon I’m going to give up and buy a Prius. ***** I agree with just about everyone in the area, with the exception of the seven members of the Central North Carolina Airport Authority, that the new name for the airport is terrible. But we can call the airport anything we want. The official name is the CNCIA, but I don’t...

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For Whom the Toll Tolls

I usually don’t think much about toll roads when I’m on vacation. I stop, pay the toll and go on my way. OK, maybe I complain a little about the cost, but that’s about it. But this year when the Muse and I were traveling in Portugal we became somewhat obsessed with toll roads. Well, not with the roads themselves but with trying to pay the tolls. Since then I’ve spent some time on the internet and I’ve found we are not alone in being utterly flummoxed by the new toll roads in Portugal, where the only convenient way to pay the toll is by having a transponder on your car. We had rented a car without a transponder because we have gotten in the habit of turning down all the extras they try to add on to increase the rental fee. Admittedly, we should have paid more attention, particularly when the rental agent, who really was trying to help us out, showed us a photo of the toll roads he was talking about. At the time I wondered what he was doing; did he think we had never seen a toll road? But he was right – we had never seen toll roads like these, and without the photo we might have been even more confused than we were, which was pretty darn confused. The toll roads, as...

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Under the Hammer: Jan. 4, 2018

It has been almost a year since Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, and none of the dire predictions made by the Democrats and the mainstream media have come to pass. Remember back during the campaign when the mainstream media were predicting that Trump would have to step aside and Vice President Mike Pence would run in his place? Even after the election some were predicting that Trump would never be allowed to take the oath of office. Since then, the demise of the Trump administration has been predicted repeatedly by liberal pundits and conservative never-Trumpers. New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman predicted a “worldwide recession with no end in sight” shortly after Trump was elected. But the opposite has happened. The stock market has hit 71 all time highs and the Dow has risen over 6,000 points since Trump was elected and may hit 25,000 before Trump’s first year in office is complete. Unemployment is down and some people are saying that the economy is at full employment, meaning those who want jobs have jobs. The world is not at war as many predicted, but it appears the war in Iraq and Syria is over and ISIS has been crushed – not by former President Barack Obama, whose “lead from behind” policies allowed ISIS to conquer...

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Rhino Shorts: Dec. 28, 2017

Happy 2018. This is the last Rhino Times of 2017, which seems incredible. One thing I’ve learned putting out a weekly publication for more than 25 years is that a weekly deadline makes time fly. Last week I had to look up an article I had written earlier in the year. I thought I wrote it in October, but it turned out it was August. Later this week I’ll sit down with all 52 papers we have produced this year to do a review, and I will annoy everyone in the office by calling out a story and saying, “Guess when we covered that?” I do know that the City Council primary was Oct. 10 and the general election on Nov. 7, but otherwise it’s always confusing. ***** Some people expected Rocky Scarfone and his attorney Amiel Rossabi to have already filed a lawsuit against the city over the parking deck that the city plans to build on East Market and Davie streets, which will eliminate Scarfone’s easement to the back door of Cone Denim Entertainment Center. But that lawsuit has not been filed because the courts are closed for Christmas. Court reopens on Jan. 2 and Rossabi has already sent a letter to the city asking that all correspondence in the city’s possession about the planned parking deck be preserved, which is a good indication that the lawsuit...

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Under the Hammer: Dec. 28, 2017

President Donald John Trump and the Republicans did it. They passed a major tax reform bill without a single Democratic vote in the House or Senate. That fact is pretty amazing; not a single Democrat elected to serve in the House or the Senate thinks that the government taking less money from its citizens is a good idea. That’s incredible. I hope the Democrats run in 2018 on a platform to raise taxes. It makes sense for a majority of Democrats to vote against a Republican initiative, but doesn’t it seem like one of the hundreds of Democrats in the House and Senate would see cutting taxes as a good thing? The mainstream media have spent much of the fall writing about how the Democrats are going to take back the House in 2018. But people rarely vote against their pocketbooks, and, according to independent analysts, about 80 percent of taxpayers are receiving a tax cut. In North Carolina the average taxpayer will pay about $600 less in federal taxes in 2018. You can bet that $600 is going straight back into the economy. People are likely to spend a little more money rather than put that $600 into a savings account. It’s not enough to change anyone’s lifestyle, but it is enough to eat a few more meals out, go on a trip or buy someone a nicer...

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Rhino Shorts: Dec. 21, 2017

It seems like Tex and Shirley’s Family Restaurant has always been on Pembroke Road in Friendly Shopping Center serving breakfast, but it won’t be much longer. Tex and Shirley’s is moving, and the last day at its current location is Sunday, Dec. 24. So if you’re just dying for some Tex and Shirley’s pancakes, you might want to get over there before Christmas. ***** Maybe the name will grow on me, but Central North Carolina International Airport is not very appealing. I agree that Piedmont Triad International Airport was not a good name, but it’s hard to see how the new name is much of an improvement. The good news is that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) code will not change. It will remain GSO. Take that Winston-Salem and High Point. What would be truly great for the airport would be more flights at lower rates. And really, who refers to an airport by its name? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they were flying out of Douglas, which is the name of the Charlotte Airport. Do people say, “Oh no, I have to change planes at Hartsfield-Jackson.” – the name of the airport in Atlanta? In cities with more than one airport, Kennedy or LaGuardia in New York, the name is used, but it’s going to be a while before the Piedmont Triad has another...

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Under the Hammer: Dec. 21, 2017

Some people are calling for President Donald John Trump to fire Special Prosecutor Bob Mueller, and even though Mueller is giving the mainstream media plenty of opportunities to attack Trump, firing him would be the wrong move. Sometimes the best move is to give someone plenty of rope so they can hang themselves. Mueller has been investigating since May and he hasn’t found any evidence of the Trump campaign colluding with Russia that he is supposed to be investigating. Mueller has uncovered evidence of the Clinton campaign colluding with Russians – if paying people for salacious information about your opponent is collusion. And he has also found some evidence of the FBI colluding with the Russians and the Clinton campaign. If Mueller is supposed to follow this investigation wherever it leads then he should be investigating Hillary Clinton and the FBI. The text message from FBI agent Peter Strzok about needing an “insurance policy” if Trump is elected is evidence that a crime may have been committed; it isn’t proof but it is evidence. If Mueller is doing his job, he is investigating that evidence of a crime. If he hasn’t found any evidence of Trump colluding with the Russians in six months, there isn’t much chance he’s going to find it in eight months or a year. Trump says that Mueller can’t find anything because there isn’t anything...

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Snow Shoveling Could Boost NC Economy

Yankees – or perhaps to be politically correct I should say people who have moved here from northern states – make fun of the way we deal with snow in the South. And perhaps rightly so. At the first mention that there might be snow, people around here run to the grocery store and buy as much bread and milk as they can carry. Then if there are more than two flakes the schools close and a lot of people stay home from work because they don’t drive on white roads. I don’t understand the bread and milk myself, but – since we get more ice than snow – staying off the roads does make sense. But there are some things I don’t understand about men who have moved south from the frozen North. It appears they love to shovel snow, and I don’t see the appeal. Golf is not my favorite game but I understand the attraction and even admit being hooked on the game for a while. But shoveling snow – where is the fun in that? When those first flakes are falling, kids get their sleds out, hoping that enough snow will stick to give them a few runs down the hill before it turns to slush, and men from up north get out their trusty snow shovels, no doubt handed down to them by their...

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City Council Likely to Approve Tanger Construction Contract

If things go according to plan, on Jan. 8, the final stage of a project that began as an idea thrown out by then Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins at a City Council retreat in January 2011 could begin. The City Council is supposed to vote on the contract for construction of the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts next Tuesday, Dec. 19. The low bid on the contract was made by T.A. Loving for $56 million, which is considerably lower than some councilmembers were expecting. If the City Council accepts the bid, the schedule calls for construction to...

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Rhino Shorts: Dec. 14, 2017

Depending on how much you like snow, last week we either dodged a bullet or missed a great opportunity. Saturday the snow was beautiful but the temperature stayed just high enough to keep much from sticking. A couple of degrees colder and we would have had a real snowman, sledding snow, but all we got was the view. I’ll have to check with the woolly worms again because a day of snow in early December, even if it doesn’t stick, seems to indicate a cold winter. ***** At least the Senate election in Alabama is finally over. I can’t imagine how overwhelmed the people of Alabama must be, because even here, where nobody could vote, the coverage appeared to be nonstop. I hope Doug Jones does a good job for his constituents. When he signed up to run, it seemed it was only a question of what Republican would beat him in the general election, but anything can happen in politics, and often it does. ***** The City Council has been pretty quiet for the last few months, which is not unusual in an election year. The councilmembers were understandably distracted by the election. But the first regular meeting of the new council on Tuesday, Dec. 19 is gearing up to be a humdinger. The approval of funding for the two new downtown parking decks is on the agenda....

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Under the Hammer: Dec. 14, 2017

There a lot of different ways to look at the win by Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama, in what has been a safe Republican Senate seat for over two decades. But my take is that you had the Washington swamp take on President Donald John Trump and the swamp won. Look at where the stories about Roy Moore being some kind of weird sexual predator originated – The Washington Post. It was hardball politics. And where do they play hardball politics? In Washington. Remember back when the Republicans were impeaching Bill Clinton? Speaker Newt Gingrich had to step down because at the time he was having an affair with the woman who is now his wife. The second choice for speaker was Bob Livingston, who it was discovered had an affair, and many other Republican members of the House had their infidelities exposed. Does anyone think those stories were unearthed by coincidence? It’s the way the game is played in Washington. Past sins are forgotten as long as you follow the rules. Lately, even for Washington insiders, things have gotten out of hand with accusations. But nobody liked Sen. Al Franken and some folks saw a chance to take him out. I think this election was the swamp – both Republicans and Democrats – sending a message to Trump and his supporters that in Washington they play hardball, and...

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New City Council Doesn’t Waste Time And Wades Into Potentially Hot Water

The new Greensboro City Council was sworn in on Tuesday, Dec. 5, among a multitude of thank yous and a major change in the way the City Council does business. Mayor Nancy Vaughan and the eight councilmembers who were elected to four-year terms must be feeling confident because at their first meeting they took away people’s right to speak on non-agenda items at two of the three City Council meetings each month. The speakers from the floor on non-agenda items segment of the meetings, usually referred to as “speakers from the floor,” has been highly controversial in the past....

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Manning to Challenge Budd for Congress

The 2017 election has barely ended and already the 2018 election is getting underway. Tuesday, Dec. 5, the newly elected Greensboro City Council was sworn in and Wednesday, Dec. 6, Democrat Kathy Manning announced she would be running against Republican 13th District Congressman Ted Budd. It appears it won’t be a pretty campaign. Before Manning officially made her announcement, the Ted Budd campaign posted an ad on its website titled “The Real Kathy Manning” Budd’s ad reads, “Kathy Manning is an establishment Democrat who’s worked for decades alongside far-left Democrats including Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, John Edwards...

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